Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bobolink Farm

The garden of Don and Lillian Stokes was the last stop of the day. This year it is not on the Open Days Garden Tour, but it was last year. It is a wonderful garden, beautifully designed and heavily focused on wildlife! Don and Lillian Stokes are the authors of the many Stokes Wildlife Field Guides including their most recent The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America. It is a beautiful book and loaded with incredible photographs, 500 of which were taken by Lillian. To see her photographs please see their terrific birding blog at

Don and Lillian were so gracious to show me their garden and really talk about their ideas about design, designing for wildlife, and the evolution of their garden. The house is surrounded by 48 acres, with beautiful open fields heading down to a lake. It looks completely "natural," but Lillian and Don pointed out that much of the landscape was very intentionally sculpted, select trees were left while others were taken and trees were carefully limbed to control the views. They had wonderful rock outcrops, pathways, and sitting areas as well as beautiful perennial and shrub gardens closer to the house.

This beautiful, very large pot was made by the company Lunaform of Maine and this pot was based on a pot seen at Thuja Gardens on Mount Desert Island, Maine. I grew up on MDI and will post about Thuja in a few weeks when I go home to visit.

This border was originally a perennial border, but Lillian has been working to create a lower maintenance border by replacing maintenance heavy perennials with lower maintenance shrubs. The border is beautiful and dynamic! 

One thing that struck me throughout the day in many of the gardens was the backdrop of the New England forest. It is common practice to plant yew hedges behind beautiful perennial gardens- the deep green, black color of the yew acts as a perfect backdrop and sets the flowers aglow. It is a remarkable effect! However, I have been noticing that at this time of year the New England forest can really do the same thing.

Artemisia 'Powis Castle'

Clematis jackmanii

There were a few playful sculptures in the garden made by Don's mother Charlotte Stokes.

The vegetable garden was full of everything edible, including all the flowers.

Talinum rugospermum

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bill and Eileen Elliot's Garden

Bill and Eileen Elliot's garden was the third stop on the tour and this was the garden that held the most interesting and abundant plant material. This was a plant lover, plant obsessed garden and so naturally I loved it! Eileen mentioned that the garden was never designed, it was just gardened. However, Eileen and Bill clearly have great design sensibilities because the garden and plant design was terrific.  There were numerous amazing planting combinations, wonderful pathways and terraces, and a terrific canopy and collection of big trees and shrubs. It was the hottest part of the day and brightest and so I fear that my pictures do not do this garden the justice it deserves. I highly recommend this garden to anyone interested in plants, so please try and visit during the Monadnock Region Open Days Garden Tour on August 7th.

A hydrangea and clematis combination (the names of which I did not catch).

This large leafed small tree is actually a Paulownia (most likely tomentosa?) or Empress Tree. Normally these do not survive our cold winters (though I did see a very large one in Rhode Island just a little south of here). The Elliots treat this tree like an herbaceous perennial and cut it down to a few inches each year, using it in their garden like a large leafed perennial. This year they did not and the tree leafed out on all its branches! I had been told about this Paulownia tree for some time now, but only when I looked it up and saw its common name and a photograph of it in bloom, did I realize that I saw this tree in bloom in Washington state years back. It is most likely called Empress Tree because of its incredible royal purple flowers.

This is a picture of the vegetable garden and what I loved about it was the practical side of growing food in conjunction with the impractical side of letting all the self seeders, like poppies and allium, go to flower. It was spectacular and beautiful! There was one allium flowering and both Joe and I stopped in our tracks, we had never seen one like this and figured it was something very special. Well it was! It was second year leeks in flower! Bill and Eileen intentionally leave a few in the ground each fall for this very purpose.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gardens of Maude and John Odgers

The second garden we visited on our tour was the gardens of Maude and John Odgers.  Maude Odgers is a professional garden designer (please see her website and her gardens reflect a very personal and extremely thoughtful design. She also attended the Sakonnet Symposium in Rhode Island and I think that many of the ideas discussed during that day were already in place in her own garden. She had a wonderful use of conifers throughout the borders as well as some sculpted trees and shrubs, all inter planted with beautiful perennials. The above picture is of one side of the long, curved border and the lollipop tree in the back is a standard Catalpa! This is a wonderful example of what Marco Polo Stefano called the 'hand of man' and it was fun to see this idea played out in her garden.
I liked this combination of plantings. There is the perfect round form of the boxwood and planted in front is Persicaria affinis 'Superba.' Behind is that wonderful blue spruce, textural and sculptural, but also a terrific steel gray blue color and then rising up in the space between the two large green shrubs is the one and only teasel (Dipsacus fullonum). There are so many great ideas in this one scene!

Maude told me that she returned from Sakonnet and created this pot display inspired by Fergus Garrett's talk that included examples of the pots at Great Dixter. The basic idea being that each pot holds generally one plant and you can create a wonderful display, arranging and rearranging the plants by height, color, texture. I think it is a wonderful to way to learn what you love.

Another great planting combination. The large grass in the back of the border is Miscanthus gigantueus and I am pretty sure that I have not seen this grass before- It is HUGE! It is hard to picture in most gardens because of its sheer scale, but in this garden it was just perfect. To get a sense of just how big it is, the grass completely dwarfs the large Persicaria polymorpha, seen flowering in white.


 Here was the plant id for the day! This was a beautiful shrub that just glowed! Common name is Fiveleaf Aralia, but it is not an aralia at all. It is Eleutherococcus sieboldianus 'Variegatus' though formally known as Acanthopanax sieboldianus 'Variegatus.'

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cornish Place

On Friday, Joe Valentine of Juniper Hill Farm took me to see many of the Monadnock Region gardens that will be open on August 7th as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days. It was wonderful to see these gardens at their best and to meet the wonderful, knowledgeable, and dedicated gardeners that created them. It was the hottest day of the year, but I couldn't have been happier in such beautiful gardens talking with such amazing gardeners.

The first garden was called Cornish Place and was created by its owner Laura Trowbridge in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The garden is designed around a gorgeous 1763 cape and the entire property is beautiful, but the show stopper is in the back yard. As we came around the house you encountered one of the most impressive borders I have ever seen against a backdrop of an incredible mountain view! The border ran along the view, had a lovely serpentine curve, and was up to twenty feet deep in some places.  The plantings were terrific, textural, hot and colorful, with a wonderful mix of trees, shrubs and perennials, and every plant seemed to be thriving.

Red Crocosmia 'Lucifer' with the Rhus typhina 'Balitiger' TIGER EYES

This plant was new to me and I saw it in a few of the gardens. Senna is a genus of many species and I did not catch the name of this one.

 The day was bright and it was difficult to take the perfect photograph to show off the gardens in all their splendor. So you will just have to go see them for yourself!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Ceratotheca triloba 'Lilac'

 Also known as African Foxglove, this sturdy and beautiful plant is very attractive to the bees. I actually watched one bee fly around and climb into each open flower and then slam itself into every bud! It is one of those plants that definitely surpassed all my expectations.

Begonia x tuberhybrida 'Illumination White'
This plant I successfully overwintered, using two different "methods." One just sat in a pot on my windowsill. All the leaves fell off (due to the extremely hot and dry wood heat?) and I would very occasionally water it with a small glimmer of hope that it was just lying dormant. Sure enough, late February, the dry dirt patch put up a new shoot! There were a few others that I wintered over in a bag in the root cellar, and they also survived, but are much less vigorous. This particular begonia actually trails and is a perfect plant for containers because all those lovely blooms hang over the side giving the planting a beautiful skirt. When the flowers are just opening they have a hint of green that turns buttery as they open.

Nemesia strumosa 'Blue Gem'


This is a pot on my deck filled with a few things that I wanted to get to know better, left overs from some jobs, and a few things that I overwintered in the house. The red flower is Emilia jauanica or Tasse flower, there is Senecio 'Blue,' Angelonia 'Dresden Blue,' Ptilotus 'Joey,' Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce,' and Origanum rotundifolia 'Barbara Tingey.' The Oregano looks a lot like 'Kent's Beauty' and it is the same species, but I do think that this 'Barbara Tingey' cultivar is much better. It is not nearly as fussy and it was very happy in a pot over the winter, tripling in size!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some Gems at Deb Shumlin's

 The flowers of Thalictrum rochebrunianum poking through the soft, deciduous foliage of the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides. This is an endangered species native to China and a genus of one living species, although apparently there are 3 known fossilized species- fascinating stuff!

 Clematis 'Jackmanii' climbing up a Miss Kim Lilac. It is quite a scene to see the clematis and japanese iris blooming together in that same intense purple.

Gentian makinoi closing up for the night.

A collaborative urn planting. The blue is Salvia patens 'Guanajuato' which is similar to its cousin 'Blue Angel,' except the blue is darker, the flower is larger, and the leaf is larger and more structural. The round red leaf plant on the left is Breynia disticha 'Rosea Picta.' It is slow to grow, but beautiful.

Campanula lactiflora 'Loddon Anna'

Helenium autumnale 'Moerheim Beauty'

Below is a nice shot of seed heads in July, Allium, Penstemon digitalis, and oriental poppy all still looking so nice!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Grotto

Yesterday was one of those absolutely perfect summer days, the sun was out, there was a slight breeze, and there was no humidity. I was up at the Berg's garden weeding and dead heading and admiring the mid-July garden. The above shot is of the top of the Grotto, planted with various Sedums and Thyme. Those amazing rocks mimic the mountains behind them and yesterday was a day that all the parts were at their very best!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Deinanthe caerulea

This is one of the gems I brought home from Opus Nursery during the Sakonnet Symposium. This past week it has put forth two blooms and it looks like I might get one more. I saw a very healthy, large and vigorous clump of this plant this past weekend, though it was not yet in bloom. My little specimen got a head start down south!

Inula helenium

 This picture is taken at Kristian Fenderson's garden and when I saw it I recognized having seen it in Gordon and Mary's Garden, but I did not know who it was. A few days later, at Morning Star nursery, I saw a plant that looked similar with a tag calling it Elecampane. Yesterday I found it again in the Hayward's garden blooming lusciously under the dark foliage of the Physocarpus opifolius 'Diabolo.' It is amazing when a plant enters your consciousness and then it turns up everywhere! I looked up Elecampane and found its Latin name is Inula helenium. There happens to be 90 species of Inula and I assume the above is helenium, but Scott at Morning Star says you should never assume anything in Kris Fenderson's garden! Anyway, I did find some information about the name of Elecampane and a little bit about my own name too!

"Inula, the Latin classical name for the plant, is considered to be a corruption of the Greek word Helenion which in its Latinized form, Helenium, is also now applied to the same species. There are many fables about the origin of this name. Gerard tells us: 'It took the name Helenium of Helena, wife of Menelaus, who had her hands full of it when Paris stole her away into Phrygia.' Another legend states that it sprang from her tears: another that Helen first used it against venomous bites; a fourth, that it took the name from the island Helena, where the best plants grew."
 Read more here!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden

There have been a few events in the garden lately, including the Westminster Cares fundraiser, a wedding, and garden club tours and we have all been working hard to make it look just right!  July rounded the corner and I found myself looking up from whatever I was doing and really seeing the garden and it would catch my breath each time. It looks so beautiful right now!

The Long Borders
These borders get better and better as the season moves forward.

The Brick Walk

A close up of Sorbaria sorbifolia in bloom. This is a shrub I noticed in England in March because its new foliage is so beautifully bronzy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Martinet-Dimoglou Garden

The Acworth garden tour also included the private garden of Nina Dimoglou and Pierre D. Martinet, which featured a rather incredible water feature by British designer Marc Laurence. The plantings were designed by Kristian Fenderson and I thought they were excellent. However, Nina Dimoglou is a remarkable plants woman herself and as I was the last guest of the day, she graciously showed me some of her favorite plants.

Asclepias tuberosa

This seems to be a hot plant right now as it was in most of the gardens I saw on Saturday (I also purchased one myself only a few weeks ago) and it is stunning!

Ascelpias incarnata as a landing pad for the beloved Swallowtail butterfly.

An unusual Oenothera

Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'

The incredible seed head of 'Bill Mackenzie'


I have read about this plant, but have not consciously crossed its orbit until now. A genus of many different species and I did not catch the name of this one, but what beautiful form, foliage, and flower!

This is a remarkable specimen of Clethra (I think it is barbinervis?). It is a small tree and the bark peels in a way that is reminiscent of a Stewartia. It has thick, large, leathery leaves and a beautiful, rather upright flower.

Kristian Fenderson's Garden


 On Saturday I ventured to Acworth, New Hampshire to attend a garden tour.  The tour included the renown private garden of Kristian Fenderson, a garden designer, plantsman, and author of A Synoptic Guide to the Genus Primula. I had been told that his plant collection was spectacular and I was still astounded by the sheer abundance of unusual plants in such an incredible garden. The trees and shrubs were superb, there were so many different types of beech trees, many of them weeping varieties, fabulous conifers, late blooming azaleas, evergreen rhododendrons, and countless deciduous, flowering shrubs- all under planted with incredible herbaceous woodland specimens. Not to mention his incredible collection of primula, many in full bloom this July! Anyone remotely interested in plants was in heaven!

Blue Spruce with a honeysuckle scrambling through it, the purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygira) and the white blooming Hydrangea paniculata (looks like 'Tardiva'?) in back.

A wonderful vignette of texture, shape, color, and layered planting.

The persicarias giving a good show! Persicaria amplexicaulis in front of Persicaria polymorpha.


So many different conifers!

Magnolia sieboldii! I was wandering through the garden with two friends and I wanted to go back through the woodland section to revisit a few lovely plants and then we stumbled across this magnificent specimen that we had missed the first time around.

Actaea racemosa, a New England native and was used throughout the woodland garden.

Another lovely scene! The red fruit belongs to Actaea rubra, again a native threading its way throughout the garden.